Bison meat tends to be leaner and higher in omega-3 fatty acids than most beef, because the animals are fed grass instead of corn. If you’ve ever read Michael Pollan’s, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, you probably remember the many problems he discussed that happen when cows are fed grain (corn) diets. After reading his book, I’ve stopped buying any beef that is not 100% grass-fed when I do my grocery shopping. If you haven’t read Pollan’s book, I highly recommend it but, in short, cows are not biologically built to eat grains and doing so often makes them sick. The meat industry has decided that grain-fed cattle is advantageous because the cows will gain weight much faster than they would on a natural grass-fed diet and feed corn is extraordinarily cheep. To compensate for the health problems the cows experience, cows are routinely given antibiotics.
The result: cheep beef with higher fat content (marketed as “marbling”), lower omega-3 fatty acid content, and an unfortunate new source of antibiotics in the human diet. Antibiotics are wonderful medicines when we need them, but taking them when we don’t, or having thousands of cattle take them, benefits no one (other than of course those who are profiting on meat sales). Overuse of antibiotics breeds new, dangerous strains of bacteria and decreases the effectiveness of existing antibiotic medicines.
Grass-fed beef and bison are harder to find in stores and are often more expensive per pound. So I buy less, eat beef less often, and enjoy it more. My meal cost really isn’t much different because I change the proportion of beef to veggies (in favor of veggies) and vegetables are both cheap and filling. Another great health and cost-saving strategy is to buy less meat and add protein and fiber-rich beans to your meal. Reducing your red meat intake to about once/week and increasing your intake of vitamin and fiber-rich plants will also cut your risk for many chronic diseases that plague the U.S. including cardiovascular disease (CVD). You can easily find grass-fed beef and bison fresh at Whole Foods, but you can also find frozen bison burgers at a number of grocery stores including Trader Joe’s.